Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fishy Tales

‘To market…to market…to buy a big fish ’. We Goan’s love our fish, feni and fun. And here is a place to cater just for you. Well…maybe the feni is out of place, white wine would be more appropriate…but you can have it if you want. The place… ‘Simply Fish’, at the Goa Marriott Resort.

We stroll past the poolside….. did that water seem so inviting? I could imagine the velvety, inviting flow of blue…Oh! What a sensation. ‘I can imagine what the mermaids must be feeling,’ Joe vouches as we sit by the riverside, the blue funneled candles on the tables casting mysterious shadows around.

‘I was thinking of fish…not mermaids,’ I retort. Luckily we had Manuela the vivacious and friendly PR representative of the hotel sitting with us, or else those mysterious shadows would be hiding a black eye which he would be nursing shortly.

Enter Chef Shubendu. We look at the vast array of fish tastefully placed in baskets….Sea Bass, Red Snapper, Pomfret, Prawns, Lobster, Squid. ‘We recommend that our guests take their pick….depending how much they want to eat…we start at 200 gms,’ he states. Well that seemed fair. You pick up your main course…. prawns, lobster, fish or squid….the purchase is weighed, and then you are charged accordingly. Just like any marketplace. And to top it all, the accompaniments are served free.

So here we were awaiting the first course……Lobster Cappuccino. From the baker’s basket olive foccacia with celery pesto, home made mustard and slow baked garlic is placed on the table. The starter arrives. On a mini train like dish around two feet long made of four compartments. One compartment holds a steaming cup of the Lobster Cappuccino, the other pine butter, on the third nestled some lobster butter, the fourth…a slice of bread with a lobster preparation and black olives. I take a small bite of the savory bread and a sip of that steaming cappuccino. Divine. Thank god for that. Joe’s mind was now focused on the food and not mermaids.

Next the grilled prawns with lettuce in honey stung vinegar. The dressing was good. Honey stung vinegar. Sweetheart, I look at my better half, the message very clear, when your honey stings you with her vinaigrette barb, you had better go into raptures the way you are now. But joke’s apart. The tangy accompaniment was a perfect foil to the lemon butter sauce that we had sprinkled over the prawns.

Well Chef Shubendu was determined to smother us with food. The Lobster Thermidor.…it was a good thing that it did not have too much of the cream sauce that kills the flavor of the meat was a treat and the Grilled Snapper with celery pesto…the fish just melts in your mouth. This chef has got the right touch.

But we were in for an even bigger surprise. Chef Shubendu Kadam had been selected to represent his hotel when they had a Goan food festival in Jakarta. And he has also catered to the likes of Dr Manmohan Singh and other Asian dignitaries at the ASEAN meet in the Philippines.

Well many people state that the best way to eat fish is when it is grilled…no sauces to takes away the flavor. Chef Shubendu is determined to prove us wrong. Bipasha Basu just loves his peri-peri masala’s. And so out came Joe’s request, even though we were pretty full. Was he still thinking of mermaids or Bips?

The squid peri-peri was all that one could hope for. The rich orange-red tangy masala coated the squid, the way a glove clings to the skin. And it did the same thing to my palate the moment I took a small bite. The vinegar just seemed to bring out the flavor. Just like nagging wives…don’t they perk up the laid back male?

But now back to Fish. The black Pomfret in green masala....remember if you order it, there is no bone……the rich masala is stuffed in, so cut the darne right through.

I complimented Chef Shubendu after the meal…he was right to look like the cat who had got the canary…sorry fish. After all, the reputation of any restaurant depends on the skills of the chef.

And last but not least…if you are determined to try out some of my Fishy tales, please do not forget to call in advance for the most delicious Pista Rabbadi Kulfi, that the Halwai churns out. With a treat like that, I can always forgive Joe as he walks to the car forgetting that he has left his Honey stung vinegar behind…or maybe he had heard the mermaids call.

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